Your Ultimate Austin Day-Trip Bucket List: The 7 Best Escapes Around Austin!

Need a quick escape from the hustle of the city? No problem! With a myriad of unique day trips just a stone’s throw away from Austin, your options are nearly limitless. Surrounding our vibrant city are enchanting getaways that you’ll absolutely love. Here, we’ve compiled our favorite day trips from Austin to help you plan your next adventure.

1. Explore Natural Beauty at Hamilton Pool Preserve

About a half-hour drive from downtown Austin, tucked away in the rolling landscape of Texas Hill Country, you’ll find the jaw-dropping beauty of Hamilton Pool Preserve.

  • Dive into the main attraction: the namesake pool. This turquoise natural pool was created thousands of years ago when the dome of an underground river collapsed. Now, it provides a refreshing retreat from the Texas heat under a 50-foot waterfall cascading over limestone outcroppings. The pool is surrounded by massive slabs of limestone, large stalactites, and a picturesque pedestrian path.

  • Hike the quarter-mile trail from the preserve’s entrance down to the pool to experience firsthand the ecological uniqueness of the area. Pay attention to the diverse plant and animal life along your way, and if you’re lucky, you might spot the cliff swallows nesting in summer.

    • Informative Ranger Tours are available that discuss the historical and natural background of the preserve. Make sure to check the availability when you reserve your visit.

Specifics: Due to its popularity and limited space, a reservation is required. You can reserve a slot either for the morning (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) or afternoon (2 p.m.-6 p.m.).

2. Get Lost in Time in Fredericksburg

Nestled in the heart of Texas Hill Country, the charming town of Fredericksburg offers a blast from the German past, right here in Texas.

  • Immerse yourself in the rich German heritage stamped all over the town. From the unique fachwerk architecture of buildings to the delicious traditional German food served in local eateries, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a different world.

  • If you’re a wine enthusiast, rejoice! Fredericksburg is a key player in the Texas Wine Country. There are over 50 local vineyards where you can enjoy tasting sessions paired with spectacular hill country views. Not a fan of wine? No problem, as this region is home to some fantastic craft beer breweries.

  • History buffs will particularly love this town. Explore the National Museum of the Pacific War, dedicated to WWII Pacific theatre, or amble through the Pioneer Museum Complex, which tells the story of the German pioneers who settled in the area. Don’t forget to visit Fort Martin Scott, a historic pre-Civil War frontier post.

  • For shopaholics, there’s a treasure trove of goodies down Fredericksburg’s Main Street. From charming boutiques, antique stores, to local art studios, you’re sure to find the perfect souvenir from your day trip from Austin!

3. Go Wild at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Venture north of Fredericksburg to find the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, home to one of the largest natural rock formations in the United States.

  • The park’s centerpiece, the Enchanted Rock, is truly a sight to behold. This gigantic pink granite dome rises 425 feet above ground and covers an area of over 640 acres! Climbing to the top may be challenging for some but the panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country from the summit are definitely worth it.

  • Apart from rock climbing, the park offers numerous hiking trails ranging from easy to challenging ones. Picnicking with the family, bird watching, or simply relaxing and soaking up the vastness of the landscape are also pretty popular among visitors.

  • Don’t forget to stick around as the sunsets, the park offers some of the best stargazing opportunities in Texas.

Specifics: Due to its popularity, the park often reaches its daily capacity. Ensure a visit by reserving your ticket online up to 30 days in advance.

4. Sip Wine and Relax in Wimberley

If you’re seeking a laid-back day trip from Austin, the quaint town of Wimberley in Texas Hill Country is the perfect choice.

  • Head over to the Blue Hole Regional Park, a refreshing oasis complete with cool emerald waters, towering Cypress trees, and grassy areas perfect for picnicking. It’s not just a swimming paradise, though — the park also offers miles of hiking trails and playscape for the little ones.

  • Wimberley produces some fabulous local wines. Visit the Wimberley Valley Winery to taste some of their best wines, shop for unique gifts, or just relax in their beautiful picnic area.

  • The town is also a remarkable place to shop for handmade crafts, antiques, and unique items. Visit their monthly Market Days, one of the biggest open-air markets in Texas Hill Country, to find some of the best shopping opportunities around.

5. Make a Splash at Schlitterbahn Waterpark

Heat getting the better of you? Located an hour southeast of Austin in New Braunfels, Schlitterbahn Waterpark provides a fun-filled reprieve from the Texas heat.

  • The park offers a variety of water rides, from the adventurous Master Blaster Uphill Water Coaster —

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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